Washington Monthly magazine’s annual College Guide has again named Lyon College to its list of the nation’s most socially beneficial liberal arts colleges. Lyon is ranked 117th, up from 200th last year. Lyon has made the magazine’s list of top colleges for the last seven years.
Unlike most other college guides, the Washington Monthly guide asks not only what colleges are doing for students, but also what colleges are doing for the country.
Washington Monthly came up with three indicators of how much a school is contributing to the public good. The magazine ranked schools in three broad categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D.’s), and service (encouraging students to give something back to their country).
So this year, the rankings incorporate a new measure we call the “cost-adjusted graduation rate.” This involves tweaking the calculations the magazine has long used to derive a school’s social mobility score. In the past, the annual college guide predicted a college’s graduation rate using the median SAT/ACT score of each school and the percentage of its students receiving Pell Grants and then compared it to the actual graduation rate. This year, they made two changes. First, to increase the ability to predict graduation rates, they used additional student and institutional characteristics, such as the percentage of students attending full time and the admit rate. Second, to get at cost-effectiveness, they took the gap between the predicted and actual graduation rate of a school and divided it by the net price of attending that institution. Net price represents the average price that first-time, full-time students pay after subtracting the need-based financial aid they receive.) The aim of the new cost-adjusted graduation rate is to highlight those colleges that use their resources to effectively educate students at a relatively low cost.
Washington Monthly is a magazine based in Washington, D.C., which covers American politics and government. For more information on the list, see www.washingtonmonthly.com.